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Rodgers 925 Mechanical Drawknob Conversion

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  • Rodgers 925 Mechanical Drawknob Conversion

    Somewhere on the web, I've seen a Rodgers 925 with mechanical drawknobs. How difficult would it be to convert a lighted draw knob console to mechanical? I really prefer the feel of mechanical draw knobs to the lighted variety.
    Rodgers Oxford 925 built in 1983
    Kimball K-800 Fascination - Sold

  • #2
    Hi,

    I suppose it can be done, but hardly worth it on a 30 year old electronic. Besides, swapping out the drawstop units, need a different power supply, a driver board to energize the solenoids, and a different console controller. I doubt that Rodgers would give you any help on this.

    Probably, if you wanted such a thing, best would be to get another 925, one with the mechanical drawstops.

    I agree with you that mechanical drawstops feel superior to lighted ones.

    AV

    Comment


    • #3
      Unless Rodgers can provide the circuit boards and microprocessor firmware to implement it, it would be very difficult. I suspect such support is no longer available, as Arie indicated. You might contact Matt C. Neill (MCN Systems)--he has a lot of surplus Rodgers equipment.

      If Rodgers circuits are not available, you'd have to design circuits to mimic the lighted drawknob's electrical action, providing a momentary on pulse and momentary off pulse for the stop control; receiving the on and off signals from the combination action and driving the mechanical stop's solenoids accordingly.

      Figure, in rough terms, $3,000 for the drawknob and rocker stop units themselves.

      It would probably be much easier and less expensive to convert to Artisan or Hauptwerk--though it would still be a lot of money.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by toodles View Post
        Unless Rodgers can provide the circuit boards and microprocessor firmware to implement it, it would be very difficult. I suspect such support is no longer available, as Arie indicated. You might contact Matt C. Neill (MCN Systems)--he has a lot of surplus Rodgers equipment.

        If Rodgers circuits are not available, you'd have to design circuits to mimic the lighted drawknob's electrical action, providing a momentary on pulse and momentary off pulse for the stop control; receiving the on and off signals from the combination action and driving the mechanical stop's solenoids accordingly.

        Figure, in rough terms, $3,000 for the drawknob and rocker stop units themselves.

        It would probably be much easier and less expensive to convert to Artisan or Hauptwerk--though it would still be a lot of money.
        I agree with much of this. However just about any combination action made, Peterson, Syndyne or Opus 2 could take over the function of firing the Rodgers stops should they be changed to mechanical ones. But an earlier poster is correct: it simply isn't worth the effort on the instrument in question. In addition to Artisan and Hauptwerk there is J'Organ which is open source (free) and any of these 'virtual organ' sound engines would make a better sounding final result than the original Rodgers technology. I just obtained an European counterpart to the very late 80's Rodgers quasi-analog sound generation technology. Also a three manual. The main hurdle of any virtual organ project is the console and IMO having one of these legacy Rodgers, Allen, Eminent, Viscount, etc. instruments is that they provide fantastic foundations to build your electronics into. Play them as is until you can't stand them anymore and/or come into several thousand dollars and then tear them down to manuals and pedalboard and build them up from MIDI interfaces and call it good.

        H

        PS As much as I love them I can't support actually upgrading to moving stop controls. If the console has them as OEM, fine. It absolutely isn't worth it to buy them new. In much the way that modern organists are learning to embrace sampled stops, modern organists may have to learn to embrace lighted stop controls. They use much less energy which in turn makes them much easier for modern combination actions to drive. Just keep a small supply of bulbs handy, they occasionally burn out.

        Comment


        • #5
          As inexpensive as used organs are, the only economical way to get moving drawknobs may be to buy a used organ that already has them, as has been suggested.

          The use of Hauptwerk, etc., doesn't in any way move one closer to this particular objective and the stop tabs/knobs are probably the most difficult part of such a conversion, as the engraved names never match, the quantities are off, and it isn't even worth considering if they are not mechanically movable (or lighted) in the first place. To state the obvious, when you hit a piston, whatever you had down before will APPEAR to still be drawn. Most conversions only wire a few up for oddball uses, such as extra couplers.

          My old Allen has an excellent Hauptwerk Paramount 332 installation in it today but the original stop tabs are a minimal part of the new setup. Pistons/toe studs are a different story. Fairly easy to make those work.
          Roland Atelier AT-90s, AT-80s, AT-70, 30, and 15. Roland VR-760 combo
          Yamaha S-90, Kurzweil PC-3x, Casio Privia PX-330, Roland E-80, G-70, BK-5, Leslie 760, 820
          Moved on:
          Allen 3MT/Hauptwerk, Technics GA1, Yamaha HX1, AR80, numerous Hammonds, including 2 M's, an L, 2 A-100's, XP-2, XM-1/1c, & an XK-3. Roland Atelier AT-30, 60r, 80, & 20r(2 units), and a slew of Leslies (147, 142, 760, 900, 330).
          Korg Triton Le-61, Casio Privia PX-310 & 110, and Kurzweils: PC-2x, SP-88, Pro-III, K1000

          Comment


          • #6
            It's not so much a matter of getting a combination action to move the stops (as mentioned, virtually any commercially available system will do this), but of getting the Rodgers microprocessor to recognize when a stop is on or off--the lighted systems incorporate electronic latches to do this--the system isn't designed for continuously on signals, but even if it recognized those (and I think it might), turning off the signal isn't how Rodgers saw a stop going off--it sees a separate input connection to do this.

            Comment


            • #7
              I've often believed that if I ever got my hands on a 925, the first, and probably only, thing to go would be those vile lit drawknobs, couplers, pistons, etc.

              I think toodles is right in that, even though the system is designed for momentary contact, it would work with continuous-on signals with just some small circuit mods. However, getting combo action is entirely another matter and would involve quite a bit of work/expense; buying a 3rd party action might be the easiest thing to do.

              I'm not sure that you actually saw a moving-drawknob 925. According to the 925 brochure, it was not offered on the 925 and I'm almost coming to believe that, at the time, Rodgers was using lit's exclusively. Anybody confirm/deny this? (Brochures before and after mention moving's as an option.) However, the brochure may not be complete in that I have seen 925's with far more auxiliary pistons than are shown/described in the brochure, controlling things like multiple alternate mixtures. I did see a post somewhere from somebody who said he was slowly acquiring mechanical's to convert his 925 but he seemed to be under the impression that all he had to do was replace the lit's.

              Greg

              Comment


              • #8
                The 760 was available with moving drawknobs as an option--I attended a dealer's open house where they had one. No mention of it was made in the brochure, though (nor the technical manual). They were using

                I suspect brochures were only revised as they ran out of copies, so options and additions might not have shown at all.

                Comment


                • #9
                  I wouldn't mind ripping the 2 memory level combination action out (or rather bypassing it) and gaining more memory levels in the process. What I would worry about though is losing the crescendo/tutti functionality as well as any of the other ancillary functions. Would a combination action be capable of driving the cpu's stop action system?
                  Rodgers Oxford 925 built in 1983
                  Kimball K-800 Fascination - Sold

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by toodles View Post
                    The 760 was available with moving drawknobs as an option--I attended a dealer's open house where they had one. No mention of it was made in the brochure, though (nor the technical manual). They were using

                    I suspect brochures were only revised as they ran out of copies, so options and additions might not have shown at all.
                    Our church has a 760 with moving drawknobs.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by NoTalent View Post
                      I've often believed that if I ever got my hands on a 925, the first, and probably only, thing to go would be those vile lit drawknobs, couplers, pistons, etc.

                      I'm not sure that you actually saw a moving-drawknob 925. According to the 925 brochure, it was not offered on the 925 and I'm almost coming to believe that, at the time, Rodgers was using lit's exclusively. Anybody confirm/deny this? (Brochures before and after mention moving's as an option.) However, the brochure may not be complete in that I have seen 925's with far more auxiliary pistons than are shown/described in the brochure, controlling things like multiple alternate mixtures. I did see a post somewhere from somebody who said he was slowly acquiring mechanical's to convert his 925 but he seemed to be under the impression that all he had to do was replace the lit's.
                      Rodgers (and Allen) did/do a HUGE amount of custom and semi-custom work for customers around the country. Almost literally, if it can possibly exist, they can make it happen. A mechanical drawknob 925 would be trivial to custom fabricate and I don't have any trouble believing it has happened. Many times. It might be because I don't get to play drawknob instruments all that often, but I am slowly making peace with the lighted drawknob evolution.

                      H

                      - - - Updated - - -

                      Originally posted by toodles View Post
                      It's not so much a matter of getting a combination action to move the stops (as mentioned, virtually any commercially available system will do this), but of getting the Rodgers microprocessor to recognize when a stop is on or off--the lighted systems incorporate electronic latches to do this--the system isn't designed for continuously on signals, but even if it recognized those (and I think it might), turning off the signal isn't how Rodgers saw a stop going off--it sees a separate input connection to do this.
                      I am fairly certain that Rodgers' instruments modern enough to be using lighted drawknobs are using some form of internal MIDI to communicate between the keyboard and stop actions and the main CPU. All the various 3rd party combination actions can send MIDI and receive it as well.

                      H

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by TubaMirabilis123 View Post
                        What I would worry about though is losing the crescendo/tutti functionality as well as any of the other ancillary functions. Would a combination action be capable of driving the cpu's stop action system?
                        Whatever you might lose in such a modification you would more than gain IMO. A modern 3rd party combo action would likely have multiple programmable crescendo/tutti and other ancillary funtions. A 3rd party action would not and could not drive the organ's cpu. It would have to be the other way round. But if you are bypassing the organs built in combination action it really does not matter. As long as the cpu is informed that such and such stops are activated (or retired) it really doesn't care whether the information came from its own built in combination action or a 3rd party's. The stop action is not being changed, only the aegis activating said stops. Whether this is done by voltages or MIDI messages, the 3rd party combination action can likely output the proper signals to make the stop action respond.

                        H

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          The whole issue of changing the combination action and stops becomes a matter of integration into the Rodgers electronics--it's unlikely that any commercially available system will have a direct interface.

                          If the Rodgers has their MID 2 implementation, all stop information (on/off) is provided as SysEx messages, and so if you want an external combination action, and mechanical stop controls, you could provide the data to the 925 via MIDI, and everything would work OK, but if you take the crescendo out of the Rodgers system, you lose the Rodgers crescendo indicator and the "orchestral crescendo".

                          Yes, all of this can be worked around, but, in essence, it means designing and constructing a new control system or at least an interface.

                          I contacted Artisan previously about an interface to my Rodgers 760 using SysEx messages to interface to their sound engine--the idea was to use that engine to provide the pipe augmented voices instead of using pipes, and to, perhaps, make some stop list changes where feasible. They indicated it would take one of their micro-MIDI boards to handle the SysEx interpretation. (I have since purchased a pipe package, so for now that idea is on hold). However, this approach could be used to take the mechanical stop inputs and driver outputs using their MicroMidi boards to run an independent combination action--it's probably less than $1000 for the boards plus the stop mechanisms, and power supplies. In all, I'd plan for $4,000 or so to do this job.

                          Is it worth it? It's up to the organist to decide. If the lighted stops are in good working condition, I'd probably say no, unless you happen to already own a large part of the hardware.

                          I had an older Rodgers 990 with lighted stops that were very not easy to manipulate--my much more modern 760 has controls that seem to work much better. I haven't had it long enough to decide if I'll convert or not, but I already own enough Syndyne SDK drawknob units, so for me it is just the cost of the electronics.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Through this thread, and my own thinking, I keep wondering: how much does a moving drawknob cost? If you had to go to Syndyne, or whomever, how much does a new drawknob cost? Singles and in quantity of maybe 50 or 75. (I think the 925 has 72.)

                            Greg

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Figure $35 for everything; the last time I priced was over a decade, so I'm estimating today about $28 for the SDK unit, the stem is another couple of bucks, and the head is maybe $3, and engraving varies quite a bit on who is doing it, and the font (some are easier to engrave than others). Note that their lighted units are only about $10 lower. Arndt has, I think, the lowest engraving prices, and if you buy from Syndyne, I think they use Arndt. I also thing you get a break on engraving prices when you buy through Syndyne. Hesco Inc. is the other major organ engraving house, but I'm sure Klann and Organ Supply Industries do it as well.

                              I think Harris Precision drawknob units are about $100 each (yikes!), but it looks like the hole assembly was machined. Syndyne uses a stamped metal housing, which is perfectly fine, and they use volume production techniques--Harris, to me, seems much more of a hand built unit.

                              Klann also sells their own drawknob unit, as does Peterson. Peterson seems to me to be a regular tongue tablet mechanism forced to work with drawknobs. I don't recall if OSI makes their own drawknob unit.

                              Mostly you don't see much of a price break with Syndyne until you buy 100. You'll probably have to pay a setup fee for engraving less than 10 or 15 heads. I can vouch for the quality of design and build for the Syndyne SDK units. They have a very sold on/off toggle feel, yet you can draw one with just your pinky finger.

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